We live in a 200-year-old barn in Somerset we are renovating. Opposite, we have another long barn with an old tin roof, oak posts and white stone gables, which we are slowly doing up too. While the renovations are happening, we’re using the outdoor area in front of it as something of a summer kitchen space.
There’s nothing I like more than cooking outdoors: the firewood, the weather conditions and the ingredients are always different. I love all the variables.
An old potato coffer (to my left) has become a makeshift work surface. We found it in a flea market in Bruton – it’s made from elm and we think it dates back to the 17th century. It’s clearly English as somebody has written on it the names of the potato varieties (maris piper, esme, desiree) that were kept in it.
I’m hugely inspired by the Argentine chef Francis Mallmann, hence all the asado (barbecue) equipment in the foreground. To the left is an asado cross made by a chap called Tom Bray at the Argentinian Cross company. We like to hang large joints from this, such as the lamb leg in the picture, studded with rosemary and garlic. On the Argentine-style chapa grill beneath we’ve put hispi cabbages and long bell peppers to blacken and soften slowly.
The grill to the right is a tripod with a fire bowl. I love doing chicken over this, marinaded, stuffed with lemon and thyme, rubbed with chimichurri (the Argentine condiment of herbs, garlic, oil and chilli) then hung from the chain to cook through.
For the barbecues we use ash wood seasoned for at least 12 months. It burns very hot, which is what we need for cooking with fire – other woods are more slow burning.
The axe and knives in the foreground was made by two craftsman friends, Alex Pole and Ed Hunt, who work nearby. All their materials are sourced from the UK, many from Somerset, and often the wood comes from fallen trees. My knife handle is apple wood from the orchards at Somerset Cider Brandy.
The poker and other fire tools I’m holding were made by Richard Jones, a local blacksmith who sadly died a few days ago. He made the gates for the Tower of London and was a bit of a legend round here.
The chopping board is made of oak, also sourced here in Somerset. It was a present from Paul Vincent, a very talented local cabinet maker – he made all the boards for our restaurant, too.